Image on the cover of the report of a crowd of office workers walking quickly.

Yet for many the role is broader than this. What do we consider the role to include and how should we ensure that, as a profession, we are developing the next generation of multi-skilled individuals that organisations require?

In 2012 ACCA and IMA published a report The Changing Role of the CFO which outlined nine key issues that were affecting the role. In this report we look at how these have impacted the role and how they will continue to do so. The report looks at the following areas:

·       How the CFO role is currently perceived

·       The development of the role in the future

·       The implications for the skill sets needed

·       The development path towards the CFO role

The report draws on a survey of ACCA and IMA members as well as other CFOs and CEOs. It is illustrated with observations from those who participated in a series of global virtual roundtables.

How the CFO role is currently perceived

72% of the survey respondents indicated that the role was increasing or significantly increasing and 58% felt that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the role.

There were varying views of the most valued attributes of the CFO dependent upon the audience being addressed.  However, the survey results and roundtable interviews indicated that the CFO role is becoming a broad one.  One that is transformative within the organisation, strategic and a ‘right-hand’ to the CEO in many instances.

The development of the role

The role itself was perceived to be continuing to develop.  As part of the research six hypotheses were tested.

Each of these were considered to represent elements of the direction of the role.  However, opinions varied, and the perceptions of CEOs frequently differed from those of CFOs.

With financial acumen at is core there is a broad range of skills that the CFO needs to possess to be successful in the current times.  These combine technical, practical, and softer skills in a broad combination.  81% of the survey respondents felt that an accountancy qualification was either essential or strongly recommended for the CFO.

The development path towards the CFO role

66% of the survey respondents felt that either not enough attention was being paid to the development of the next generation of CFOs or were unsure.  The challenge of developing the next generation is one that exercised many of the contributors to the report.  Several practical recommendations are identified to guide the thinking of those who aspire to the role.